Herald/CATRINA RAWSON - Alejandra Dechavez, 11, swims with her dachshund, Chloe, during the second annual Puppypalooza event Saturday at Carl Levin Park in Harker Heights.

By Danielle Church

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - Saturday morning was filled with contests, activities and swimming at Carl Levin Park.

But this was not a play day planned for children as much as it was for their furry friends.

The Harker Heights Parks and Recreation and police departments, along with the Bell County Kennel Club, hosted the city's second annual Puppypalooza - an event dedicated to dog owners and their pets.

"It's good for the socialization of the dogs, and it's good to get them out," said Harker Heights resident Angela Thomas, who attended the puppy fest with her husband, Tom, and their 10-month-old Chihuahua Poodle mix, Frankie.

HHPD Officer Gabrielle Guerra and her canine partner, Rokky, attended Saturday's event to teach guests how police dogs do their job.

The 4-year-old German Shepherd made himself at home during the presentation, plopping down on the cool cement floor of the park's pavilion, as Guerra proudly talked of his accomplishments during the past two years of their partnership.

"(So far) in his career, he's put away about five felons," she said.

And much like the officers themselves, Guerra said Rokky has a life off-duty as well. "When he gets home, he's got a ton of toys and he loves his kiddie pool," she said, revealing that he goes home with her every night and has essentially become the family pet.

Other pet owners such as Hansy Howard, owner of Barking Oaks Pet Resort in Temple, were at Saturday's event. Howard had a tent set up to share information about her business and to raise funds for the Second Chance Animal Shelter in Killeen.

Edina Darnell, 8, and Rene Thorne, 11, paraded around Howard's pink-dyed poodle, Zeus."She's going to be walking in the breast cancer walk," said Edina, who showed off the canine's pink pouf and breast cancer ribbon symbol styled into her fur.

By 10 a.m., dozens upon dozens of leashed dogs took over park grounds and mingled with their peers, as their owners sat around for demonstrations and browsed through tents offering pet-related services.

City Recreation and Events Coordinator Nichole Broemer said the second annual puppy fest seemed to be a success.

"We had 400 to 500 people attend last year," she said. "(And) we're hoping to have more this year."

Contact Danielle Church at dchurch@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7567.

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